Sarah Rich

PREFAB FRIDAY: Global Village Shelters in Aspen

by , 07/07/06

Cameron Sinclair and Sarah setting up Global Village Shelters in Aspen, Architecture for Humanity, Ferrara Designs, Prefab Friday, Grenada, Disaster Relief, Design Like You Give a Damn,The Global Village Shelter – $550, the Lexus in the background – $50,000.

While Jill was researching and writing up the Global Village Shelters back home in NY, unbeknownst to her, I was in the midst of constructing two of these shelters with Architecture For Humanity’s Cameron Sinclair, at the Aspen Ideas Festival. This bit of design serendipity was perfect – and highlights the fact that the Global Village Shelter is definitely the prefab dwelling of the week. Here’s a bit more about my first-hand experience with the lightweight, portable dwellings…



Global Village’s fold-up corrugated cardboard shelters are simple to put together. With the late afternoon Rocky Mountain thunderstorms rolling in, time was of the essence and it took only a few minutes to get the walls unfolded and the roof put together. The main challenge was in the rubber strip that has to be slid into a groove between the roof panels to secure them. The tube didn’t slide easily and some MacGyver skills were required. But once the roof was in one piece, it simply needed to be lifted up and set down atop the walls. The inside has one screen window with a plexiglass cover, and no floor.

On the pristine green grass of the Aspen Institute lawn, a floorless interior was perfectly pleasant. We placed plywood in one to demonstrate the options. Overhead, a tarp can be placed like a fitted sheet and staked to the ground beneath. On the festival campus, it’s a bit hard to distinguish the white tented shelters from the numerous white event tents, and the irony is all the better with the Lexus sponsorship display abutting the shelter site (the luxury car display alone costing nearly 100 times what one Global Village Shelter costs!). Once informed, though, attendees have been milling in and out, catching onto the idea that these can serve as homes for people a far cry from the Aspen Valley.

+Global Village Shelters
+Architecture For Humanity
+Design Like You Give A Damn

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1 Comment

  1. Mia Ferrara Pelosi July 27, 2006 at 8:41 pm

    Hey Sarah-
    Cool to see your photos and comments in this forum. I am always glad to read feedback form actual ‘users’, positive and negative. I am not sure who you worked with at Ideas but I thought it was worth mentioning that the roof splines have to be lubricated. They glide in like butter with a little Pledge or WD-40 (in Pakistan they used motor oil…). I told a few people about this but communications get lost…like a game of telephone I guess, on the computer.

    If you have any photos of the GVS in situ I wouldlove to see them and possibly include them on our website, alongside some of your comments above…let me know if this is possible. You can email me directly through the GVS contacts page.

    The Luxus is a riot…I couldn’t get tickets to the festival so I appreciate the photos a lot!

    Thanks!
    Mia (designer of GVS)

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